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Bleeding Royal Blue

Inside the mind of a Kansas City Royals fan

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December 2012

The Royals Have 99 Problems & Their Right Fielder is Just One

Jeff-Francoeur
Does Frenchy think he knows the strike zone better?

This past week has been crazy if you are a Kansas City Royals fan. The Royals pulled the trigger on a big trade, trading 2012 Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year Wil Myers(and more) for Tampa Bay’s James Shields, Wade Davis and a player to be named later. This has posted two different reactions from Royals fans. One is the fan who doesn’t like the trade and feel the Royals gave up too much. The other is that the team had to do something and now they are in contention for the American League Central title. I know us Royals fans are dying for a winning team, but am I the only one that feels that thinking this makes the Royals contenders is putting the cart before the horse? The Royals still have problems and a bunch of ‘ifs’ that would fill up Kauffmann Stadium.

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The obvious problem is Right Field, the position that Wil Myers was planning on taking over in 2013. This now falls back to the guy who has held that spot the past few years, Jeff Francoeur. The problem is that Frenchy stunk up the place in 2012, putting numbers up that are atrocious for a guy batting in the 5th spot most of the year. The numbers are so bad that I’m not even going to put them in here, as they will stink up my article. Just trust me, this guy was quite possibly the worst player in baseball in 2012. For the Royals to be contenders in 2013 they need Francoeur to bounce back. If Jeff can even put up numbers close to what he put up in 2011 then the Royals could be in the conversation this upcoming year. If they are closer to 2012, then we are in trouble. Right now the backup outfielders look to be anyone from David Lough, who had a decent showing in the bigs the last month of the year, and two outfielders picked up off the heap this winter, Xavier Nady and Willy Taveras. Until Francoeur shows everyone that he can perform better than last year(and not blame it on Billy Butler) Right Field will be a problem in Kansas City.

getz

Another problem area is second base. Right now it looks to be a battle between Chris Getz and Johnny Giavotella, who neither have really placed a permanent flag on the position. Getz probably had his best year in the big leagues in 2012, as a changed stance seemed to help his batting while displaying solid defense. He still has no power, and is probably still better suited to being a backup, but he has shown improvement. Everyone knows I really like Giavotella, but here is the honest truth that stares us in the face: he has yet to show he DESERVES to be in this spot. Gio has nothing else to prove at AAA, so this very well could be his last chance. He needs to show the team he deserves to be in the lineup or we will be seeing him in a different uniform. Kansas City actually might be best served to acquire someone else to backup, so the team has some insurance. Hopefully someone(Gio) will just step up and take the spot, but neither choices are guaranteed.

hosmerA giant ‘if’ going into 2013 is whether or not Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas can get around their sophomore slumps. Hosmer looked lost most of 2012, never really getting into a groove and not looking like a future MVP, like some had predicted(man, who would have done that??). Moustakas had a really good first half, and overall improved his defense by leaps and bounds, but Moose also slumped badly in the second half. In Moose’s case, I wonder just how much his lingering knee issues affected him in the second half. Both will get two new hitting coaches to work with, and hopefully, turn them around. Both guys have always hit, so it seems inevitable that they will return to past glory. But nothing is assured, and it seems odd to me that Royals management is acting like it is. We don’t know which version of these two we will get in 2013, but if it is anything like 2012, Kansas City can kiss those playoff chances goodbye.

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As if these weren’t big enough if’s, there is at least one more. Sure, the Royals have upgraded their starting pitching and there is no way it is not better than it was last year. But look at their top three starting pitchers, or the ones the Royals would need to use if they did happen to reach the playoffs: James Shields, Ervin Santana, and Jeremy Guthrie. Yep, sure doesn’t strike a lot of fear in batters once you get past Shields. Now, there is a possibility that Santana will bounce back from his awful year this year, especially if the last couple months are proof. But his velocity has also dipped for the last three years and he seems like an injury waiting to happen. Santana is definitely not a sure thing. I feel more confident with Guthrie, but he is a pitch to contact pitcher, which means the ball will be in play a lot. That also means that batters will get some good swings on him, and he will have the occasional bad start. Hey, that’s fine, it happens. But if the Royals are to be taken seriously as contenders, they need everyone to step it up. If Guthrie pitches like he did for Kansas City in 2012, then it should be okay. If not, we can hope Danny Duffy returns from Tommy John surgery and shows the promise we saw last year before the injury. This starting three does not feel like a playoff team’s rotation. That should worry not only you, but every Royals fan who is getting their hopes up.

perezmooseSo acquiring James Shields doesn’t assure the Royals a playoff spot in 2013. I didn’t even mention how the Royals need to stay healthy, as Salvador Perez and Lorenzo Cain both spent more time than they should have on the disabled list in 2012. The Royals are going to have to have a lot of things that didn’t go right in 2012 go right in 2013, that is for sure. I know we are all excited that we could have a playoff game in Kansas City, but I think the American League Central will be better in 2013, and the Tigers just re-signed Anibal Sanchez. This team definitely seems like it will be better than this year’s bunch, I can almost guarantee it. But they still feel like a .500 or just under team. All I am saying is lets be realistic about this. Let’s not think that we need to print off playoff tickets before the team even reports to Spring Training. 2012 should have showed the overly optimistic that there is a reason the games are played.

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Come to Beautiful Kansas City. We Have Fountains.

Waterfalls and fountains at the Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri copy

It’s hard to remember, but years ago, the Kansas City Royals were a constant in the playoffs. Most of what they built on the field was through the farm system, but there were some shrewd moves made by the front office at the time as well as some key free agent signings.  The bottom line was players wanted to come to Kansas City. Now, unless you are wanting to resurrect your career, or if you are a chubby infielder with “soft hands”, it’s hard to get players to WANT to come play for the Royals. It’s been asked and debated; do the Royals have to overpay to bring talent to Kansas City?

melkyOnce Dayton Moore took over as General Manager of the Royals, the team moved to sign better players and would pay them extra to come to Kansas City. The problem was that Dayton was signing level B and sometimes C or D free agents and practically giving them the keys to the city. Gil Meche was the first of these signings and if it wasn’t for former Manager Trey Hillman misusing him, the team would have gotten their money’s worth of that deal. Since then we have been abused with the ultimate clubhouse cancer Jose Guillen and Jason “Rewind Yourself” Kendall. It is almost like Moore felt like players of that level was the best they could do. I guess that is part of the problem here. When you believe that, everyone else will believe that as well.

Kansas City Royals Photo DayNow, to be fair, some of Dayton’s signings have worked. Bruce Chen was picked up off the trash heap and up until 2012, seemed to be playing above himself. Chen was signed at a low cost, but high value with both his play on the field and his jokes in the clubhouse. Unfortunately, he was then given a two year contract that has seemed to be one of many albatrosses around the Royals financial neck. Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur were two former Atlanta Braves that seemed to be on the downside of their once promising careers. A move to Kansas City in 2011 seemed to be a godsend as both players played above their past performances and helped solidified both the lineup and the outfield. Francoeur would sign an extension that seemed questionable at the time and horrific in the present, while Melky would be traded to San Francisco, have the best first half of his career, win the All Star Game MVP, then get busted for PED use. These two signings worked wonders for 2011, but looked awful by May of this past year. The Royals are a team that should constantly be looking to rebuild players who just need a new environment, but need to be selective about these signings as well.

jacksonSo this leads us to this offseason, where everyone and their mother is aware that the Royals want(and desperately need) pitching. We’ve heard over and over that the Royals will have to overpay or give a player extra years to get them to come pitch in Kansas City, but is that true? I know some scoff at this, but I believe it is. The Royals have a really good nucleus of young talent, with Perez, Escobar, Moustakas and Hosmer added to lineup mainstays like Gordon and Butler. The thinking is that if the Royals could just get some pitching, this team could make a run at the playoffs. There have been a number of pitching talents on the free agent market this winter, and some have signed for very cheap money. Brandon McCarthy just signed a two year deal with Arizona for $15.5 million. The Royals easily could have afforded just under $8 million a year, especially considering that they will be paying Ervin Santana $12 million for in 2013. Edwin Jackson is still on the market as is Shawn Marcum. Both could garner a one or two year deal for right around that same amount of money. Instead, the Royals seem content shopping top prospect Wil Myers in a deal for a top starter. That is all fine and good if they are able to pull in a David Price or any other top of the rotation starter. But the names being floated around aren’t of that ilk. All we hear are the Shields’, Dickey’s and Lester’s of the world. All are fine pitchers and better than anything the Royals have now, but are they worth losing the next six years of Myers? Um, no.

Jeremy+Guthrie+Kansas+City+Royals+v+Boston+Boqgv2aeQVLlSo why aren’t these pitchers coming to Kansas City? Well, I do believe part of it is Dayton Moore hasn’t really pushed for them. Ryan Dempster’s name has been tossed around, and the team offered him more than the Red Sox have. But he also wanted a third year on the deal, while Kansas City has only been willing to go two. I agree with them only wanting to give him two, as he is in his mid 30’s and had a hard time adjusting to the American League this year. But I have to believe part of why he won’t come to Kansas City is because this team just doesn’t win. Seventeen of the last eighteen seasons have been losing seasons in KC, and with the management in charge now, it would appear we are gearing up for season eighteen of nineteen. Most players want to win, but can be swayed away from winning if it means more money. If you aren’t getting the top dollar, you don’t want to sign with a perennial loser unless you think they have turned a corner. The Royals took a side road in 2012 and their road map didn’t seem to ever steer them onto the right highway. Players notice that and the losing atmosphere does not endear players to want to sign with the Royals.

MAG0522JUBILATION.IMGSo yes, the Royals do have to overpay to get major name free agents to play in Kansas City. Or at least they will until they put together another winning season. Having management value the wrong players will hurt as well, but until those members are gone( [cough] Dayton) we are stuck with a team that can’t even compete with the Baltimore’s and Brewer’s of the world. One day this awful cycle will be undone and the Royals will be a winning franchise again. Let’s hope this happens sooner than later.

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